Chapman Center Intern and 2016 Graduate, Anthony Porter, Leaves Written Legacy

Anthony Porter Spring 2016 webby Dr. MJ Morgan, Research Director, Chapman Center for Rural Studies

Chapman Center for Rural Studies intern, Anthony Porter, a 2016 K-State graduate, Bachelor of Arts (BA) in history, left a written legacy of his time with us. Anthony’s study of the vanished community of Magic, Riley County, Kansas, appears in the May issue of Kansas Kin, published by the Riley County Genealogical Society (RCGS). “Magic: The Ultimate Vanishing Act” was an invited piece and marks the start of a fruitful collaboration between Chapman Center and RCGS.

Magic, Kansas, Schoolhouse

Magic, Kansas, Schoolhouse

We hope to offer more student work for inclusion in Kansas Kin as undergraduate researchers tackle the long-disappeared communities, villages, and trading centers of a lost Kansas landscape. Like many of our researchers, Anthony used both documentary and oral history sources, conducting interviews with Magic community descendants.

Through leads and contacts often suggested by RCGS, students learn to piece together the fascinating and sometimes quirky history of rural Kansas. Readers can also enjoy Anthony’s study of Magic in our Lost Communities Archive, at (Click the link, scroll down below the featured photograph, and click the printer icon on the black top bar above the pdf-copy of Anthony’s Magic paper. You can now print off and read Anthony’s paper at your leisure.) 

Coming Soon: make sure to catch Anthon’s digital museum exhibit on the Quivira Society, an early 20th century amateur archaeology club in Wabaunsee County appearing later this summer in our Kansas History and Life Collection.


Straight to Video: Meet our Chapman Center undergraduate researchers

Chapman Center for Rural Studies undergraduate students and researchers Make History come to life!  Check out this video/slide show of who we are, what we do and why; and where we are headed. Click here for the Spring 2016 Video (or you can click on the photo below)!

CCRS Staff Fall 2105

Wondering what new Lost Kansas Communities have been added to our online archive?
Click the photo below to find out!

Wabaunsee Cowboy

You are invited to the Going Home: Hidden Histories of the Flint Hills exhibit coming to the Flint Hills Discovery Center this fall! You’ll have a chance to tell your town’s story in our “Story Store,” explore hidden histories of people and places of the Flint Hills, and discover more about what has made Kansas and the Flint Hills home to so many for so long.

Screen shot advert from open house video

You’ll also find all the Chapman Center for Rural Studies news online at

Spring Break in Western Kansas with Friends

While K-State students searched for their Spring Break refreshment, the Chapman Center’s Executive Director, Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, and KSU’s Kansas History Professor, Jim Sherow, headed west to forge new connections on behalf of Chapman Center for Rural Studies’ research.

Wayne Ehmke, Lane County Courthouse

Vance Ehmke, Lane County Courthouse

Our goal is to have at least one researched place name per Kansas county in the Chapman Center’s digital archive.

While the archived student work continues to grow each year, it is more difficult to find students who are willing and able to travel far to research. It is crucial we make contacts in these distant Kansas counties to support future students’ interviews and search for elusive histories not found online or in books.

This is especially true of western Kansas’ Lane and Ness counties which are among the least populated counties in the high plains. Many former town sites are found in these western counties and are quickly being lost to memory. Our Chapman Center contacts, Louise and Vance Ehmke, make their home in Lane County. They own and operate Ehmke Seed, a large and going concern dedicated to wheat, Tritricale (a wheat-rye hybrid), and their regional heritage. Over the years, the Ehmke’s have hosted an army of researchers looking for paleo Indian artifacts and stories of Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and Doc Holiday.

Lane County Courthouse Art Deco Detail

Lane County Courthouse Art Deco Detail

The Ehmke’s know much about the small surrounding communities which have seen better times: Ravanna, Eminence, Beersheba, Farnsworth, Nonchalant, Denmark, Hanston, and Speed. Each community has its own unique histories. Vance and Louise also know who have continued to care for the memory of these places—people like K-State alum, Amy Bickell, who writes a regular column about lost places for KansasAgland. Swing by to read her many stories. Yeah Amy!

After an enjoyable conversation in the Ehmke’s guest house, a beautifully renovated round grain bin known as the Scale House (1), it was off to supper at the local bowling alley diner before attending the storm spotters’ meeting at the Lane County courthouse in Dighton. There, the Weather Service staff offered a lively presentation (to an appreciative and wisecracking audience) of what not to do in case of flash floods, severe thunderstorms, extreme winds, and TORNADOES.

George Washington Carver Historical Marker

George Washington Carver Historical Marker

One look at NOAA’s 2015 map of reported tornadoes, hail, and thunderstorm wind gusts makes it obvious Kansas remains a center of tornadic activity. There was plenty to learn about how to spot a tornado. We learned more about cloud walls to the beaver tail formation; clear signs an updraft and a downdraft are working together to form funnel clouds.

Early the next morning, a look through the Scale house window showed how important weather spotting is to residents of the high plains “where it takes three days for your dog to run away.”

Soon, on their way with no breakfast in Dighton, Jim and Bonnie headed to Ness City for a Cuppa Joe. Along the way, they stopped to read the KSHS marker in honor of the homestead of George Washington Carver as he left Missouri for Kansas in search of an education. Carver later developed over 500 products from his agricultural-based research of sweet potatoes and peanuts alone!

Tumbleweed Hitchiker

Tumbleweed Hitchiker

A great breakfast in Ness City and a conversation with the owner and it was home again (with a hitchhiker tumbleweed).

Until next time western Kansas!

(1) The Ehmke Scale House is well known for hosting visitors to the region, from Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Ag Economist Barry Flinchbaugh to local school children and families. Guests are encouraged to sign the main floor wall as record of their visit which serves as an informal who’s who of Kansas.

Meet Chapman Center Interns at K-State Open House


Have you wondered what Chapman Center interns really do?

Got a lead on a Lost Town you’d like to share?

Curious about what K-State has to offer you?

Now’s your chance to meet our fantastic four interns and learn more about all things PURPLE at K-State’s Open House this Saturday, April 11, 8:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.!

You’ll find the Chapman Center for Rural Studies booth in the Student Union and on the same floor as the BookStore. Ask about current research, view the Chapman Center highlight reel, and look through some of the Chapman Center publications.

Don’t miss it!

Check out the Open House promo video. Get inspired.

Undergraduate Research on Display

Dr. Morgan introduces the interns and describes the work they each did before their presentations

Dr. Morgan introduces the interns and describes the work they each did before their presentations

In December 2014, after a intense semester of research, our interns presented their research findings to a room full of eager listeners. Individuals from around Kansas traveled to the Chapman Center to attend the open house and hear about undergraduate research. The focus of intern research was the discovery of an obscured Kansas history, the history of African-Americans in rural Kansas. Each intern met with differing degrees of success in their research, but they each succeeded in peeling back the layers of history to discover diverse and untold stories.

Haley Claxton talks about the difficulties she faced conducting her research

Haley Claxton talks about the difficulties she faced conducting her research

Fall intern Haley presented her research on the founding of Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Junction City. She encountered obstacles at multiple layers of local and regional government, making her grass roots research incredibly difficult. Ultimately, her research into the park is ongoing as she discovers the challenges of rural research. Her main research project explored the life of Orchid Ramsey Jordan in Clay Center. Haley searched for brief references to Orchid in historic records and books. Haley discovered Orchid’s rich story, which included membership in the Missouri state legislature. Haley has also been selected to present her research in Topeka at the Undergraduate Research Conference!

Blake presents the body of research that he worked with to discover the history of The Bottoms

Blake presents the body of research that he worked with to discover the history of The Bottoms

Blake Latchman presented his research on the Manhattan Bottoms, tracing the history of the African-American community that rose up in the Bottoms between 1880 and 1920. Blake accessed historic maps of Manhattan to discover the geographic dispersal of this community, circa 1909. Blake explored why the African-American population rose so sharply in 1890 and dropped off in the following decades. Blake traveled several times to the Bottoms in southern Manhattan to discover the story of this historic community.

Jessica points to sections of the Underground Railroad and The Manhattan Spur, highlighted on a map of Kansas

Jessica points to sections of the Underground Railroad and The Manhattan Spur, highlighted on a map of Kansas

Jessica Hermesch presented her research on one of the western routes of the Underground Railroad, which snaked its way through Kansas, including a section called ‘The Manhattan Spur.’ Jessica set out discover just how far west the trails ventured into Kansas, tracing their routes through historic maps and old records. Jessica discovered that several ‘conductors’ had to take their trails out west of the main avenue, the “Lane Trial to Freedom.” These ‘spurs’ went through Manhattan, Wabunsee, and Nemaha County before rejoining the Lane Trail further north.

Michael points out the plots of land owned by African-Americans in Wabunsee County

Michael points out the plots of land owned by African-Americans in Wabunsee County

Fall intern Michael used a number of old plot and township maps and land records to present the history of African-American land ownership in Wabaunsee county. Michael traced the history of five land-owning African-American men in the Mission Creek township. Michael was able to generate maps locating the specific plots of land owned by these men. Michael’s research has also been accepted at the Flint Hills History Conference, “Culture and Conflict,” this coming March!

A room full of attendees await intern research presentations

A room full of attendees await intern research presentations

We look forward to watching the continued success of our interns and eagerly await what the future holds for these bright young historians!

Adams’ Collection Research Honors Family of Veterans

Chapman Center Intern Jessica Hermesch with the collection donated by General Adams

Chapman Center Intern Jessica Hermesch with the collection donated by General Adams

Thanks to a generous donation from Brigadier General Bruce Adams (Ret.), Hale Library Special Collections at Kansas State University is now home to a collection of military records, letters, and documents that trace the military and family history of George Adams, Sr., George Adams, Jr., and Bruce Adams.

With the death of his own father, General Bruce Adams saw that the passing of family members creates an impassable barrier, and he believes it is critical to begin the recording process of a complex story while the memories are still accessible. As part of that process, early this year Chapman Center Director Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow interviewed General Adams about the collection and his rich family history.

This past summer, returning intern, Jessica Hermesch, began working with the collection in the University archives to build a narrative of the family history, beginning with the service of George Adams, Sr., in World War I. Jessica has sorted through dozens of documents chronicling George Sr.’s career as a Corporal in K Company, with the 140th Infantry Regiment in World War I. The 140th, as a part of the 35th Infantry Division, took part in combat operations in the Muese-Argonne offensive. George Sr. also trained with the 353rd Infantry Regiment at Camp Funston, a garrison at Fort Riley.

The contents of George Adams, Sr.'s wallet that he carried in France, 1917, which includes French currency, Army registration card, and a deck of cards that George passed down to his son.

The contents of George Adams, Sr.’s wallet that he carried in France, 1917.

Jessica’s research focuses on the patriotism passed from Adams father to son. She hopes to construct a narrative chronicling how values were passed from George Sr. to George Jr., who flew as a reconnaissance pilot in World War II. Her work prepares for future research on George Jr.’s record in WWII as well as General Adams’ military service. Both George Adams Jr. and General Adams attended Kansas State University and have deep connections to the University, including an Army ROTC scholarship.

Jessica pulls out the deck of cards. George carried this deck through France during World War I.

Jessica pulls out the deck of cards. George carried this deck through France during World War I.

One of the special items featured in the Adams Collection is the wallet that George Adams Sr. carried through France during World War I. The contents include currency, both French (Un Franc) and German (Eine Rentenmark).

At the top of the photo (left) is George Sr.’s Army registration card and a miniature deck of cards. George Sr. passed the cards to his son, George Jr., who then passed them to his son, General Bruce Adams. George Sr. received the cards in 1917 before he left for Europe. General Bruce Adams was presented with the cards in 1998.

Jessica sorts through the contents of George's wallet, examining his registration card.

Jessica sorts through the contents of George’s wallet, examining his registration card.

Jessica, whose family has its own military record, is interested in comparing how different families experienced the military. Jessica’s great uncle served in World War II and his father before him in World War I.

“The Adams Collection fascinates me because most of what I’ve learned about military history is the big picture and strategic story, but this has given me a chance to examine the individual lives of soldiers.”
– Jessica Hermesch, Chapman Center Intern

The Adams also resided for a period in Seneca, Kansas, Jessica’s hometown. According to Jessica, this shared location makes the connection to the Adams Collection even more interesting for her.

Jessica examines documents containing George Sr.'s promotion to Corporal and his Honorable Discharge forms

Jessica examines documents containing George Sr.’s promotion to Corporal and his Honorable Discharge forms

Michael Spachek, Jessica’s colleague, contributed a war diary belonging to his great-grandfather from his own family collection. She uses the diary to offer context for her work on World War I and to learn more about the life of soldiers in Europe. Jessica’s research, planned for completion in early 2015, and the Adams Collection both seek to honor this country’s veterans, past and present.

Undergraduate Research Experience

Six months of research pay off! 

MJ Morgan and students presented to an interested audience at the High Plains Museum on October 18. Attendees represented  Northwest Kansas Technical College, Goodland City Commissioners, Sherman County Commissioners, the Goodland Morning Radio program, Goodland public library, local ranchers and farmers; Goodland business owners, and new arrivals to the town as well as long-time residents.

After the talk, there were requests for the highlights, maps, and photos to be made available in a small publication.  Dr. Morgan’s presentation,  “Goodland, Kansas: A Central Place Phenomenon, 1887-2014,” was funded by a Kansas Humanities Council grant last spring. This has proven a wonderful opportunity for KSU students to become involved in an area of Kansas that has received little attention from universities and researchers.

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